Spread over a narrow peninsula between the Rhône and Sâone rivers, Lyon’s commercial center draws in visitors with its luxury shops and cultural institutions.
Lyon’s bustling Presqu'île is sandwiched between the pretty banks of two rivers. Not only is it home to numerous shops, department stores and restaurants, but it is also blessed with many grand, stately buildings and must-see cultural sites.
The Presqu'île is a peninsula that encompasses the land to the south where the two rivers meet, known as the Confluence. This area has recently undergone a regeneration project and the docklands area is now thriving. Head here to see the 2-million-strong collection at the Musée des Confluences or to browse the gallery at the riverside La Sucrière cultural center.
Go shopping along Rue Victor-Hugo and Rue de la République, where stores are housed in grand Haussmann-style 19th-century structures. Both streets branch off from Place Bellecour, one of the largest pedestrianized squares in Europe. Check out the equestrian statue depicting Louis XIV at the center of the square, then relax at one of the chic cafés bordering the expansive plaza. South of the square, the Auguste Comte area is known for its antique shops.
At Terreaux Square, admire the impressive centerpiece fountain, which was created by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor behind the world-famous Statue of Liberty. Spend an afternoon in the Lyon Musée des Beaux Arts, where you can view an illustrious collection that includes artworks from Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh and more.
Continue sightseeing at Place de la Comédie, which is dominated by the unusual Opéra de Lyon. This unconventional structure combines a neoclassical 19th-century façade with a strikingly modern semicircular glass roof. Walk south and you’ll catch a glimpse of other well-known attractions including Saint-Nizier and Saint-Bonaventure churches.
Stop by the Théâtre des Célestins for cultural treats. Named after the Célestine monastery that was previously located on this site, the magnificent neoclassical venue was designed by French architect Gaspard André and opened in 1881. During Lyon’s annual Festival of Lights, which takes place every December, the building’s façade is lit up in a spectacular fashion.
To reach Presqu'île, ride the metro to Cordeliers, Bellecour, Ampère or Perrache stations.